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Thermal paste is used to facilitate heat conduction between the CPU and the CPU cooler. However, it is not infinitely usable and should be replaced periodically. However, many people don’t realize that they have to remove the old paste before putting in new. Putting new paste over old thermal paste can actually be counter-productive, as the older thermal paste will degrade and no longer transfer heat well.

This is not good for the CPU, or for the system overall. It is best to clean off any remaining paste with isopropyl alcohol before reapplying. Isopropyl alcohol can also be used to clean the heatsink, removing any dust that could interfere with the cooling process. In addition to isopropyl alcohol, it’s a good idea to have a lint-free cloth on hand. Lint can inhibit heat transfer, so it’s important to use something lint-free, like a microfiber cloth or a coffee filter. The coffee filter is better because it doesn’t leave any small hairs or fibers behind, as can happen with Q-tips or tissues. Alcohol prep pads (used for site injections) work well too.

Start by powering down your computer and opening the case. If necessary, unscrew the CPU cooler from its chassis and remove it. Next, make sure the workspace is clean and free of lint, dust, and debris. You’ll also want to have a can of compressed air available to blow out any dust that has settled on the cooler or other components. Finally, put on an anti-static wristband to avoid damaging the CPU or other components with electrostatic discharge. Thermal paste removal


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